Thrill pulls Peddicord into drag racing


May 01, 1994|By STAN DILLON

Jim Peddicord is a classic example of how a person can become hooked on drag racing. It wasn't until four years ago that he started attending 75-80 Dragway in Monrovia.

Peddicord, 39, returned several times to the dragway after his initial visit to learn more about the sport. Now, he is a regular.

After weeks of watching, he decided to try a couple of runs down the track in his pickup truck.

A longtime friend, Larry Hoff of Westminster, warned Peddicord how contagious the sport is. Hoff should know, he has been a fixture at 75-80 for years and has helped a lot of his relatives and friends get started in drag racing.

It only took a couple runs down the quarter-mile stretch for Peddicord to get caught up in the excitement. Before the season was over, Peddicord and Hoff were out looking for a car to race.

They found a 1966 Ford Mustang. Peddicord purchased the car and raced it the last four races of the year. Over the winter, he worked on the car and installed a Charlie Spielman-prepared engine. He ran the first half of 1991 in the trophy class before moving up to Class II.

The red Mustang is powered by a 289-cubic-inch V-8 Ford engine. The motor has been modified to improve performance, including work done to the heads, pop-up pistons and solid lifters. The new engine responded quickly with lower elapsed times for the quarter-mile.

"My first motor wasn't so good," said Peddicord. "I ran in the high 17 seconds. Charlie [Spielman] built the first one and I got the time down to 13 seconds.

"Last year in July, I lost the motor at Capitol Raceway. I was on the line against Ed Talbert and was doing a burnout when it let go. I had a new one installed and now I'm down into the low 12 seconds."

Peddicord constantly is working on the car to improve its performance and speed. Chuck Taylor of Taneytown is building a new transmission for him.

"He helps me out a lot over the summer," said Peddicord. "He is always there when I need him. He knows what's going on. He is building me a new motor now. At first it was just going to be a spare, now we're doing a little more. It's going to be a good one. It will be in the low 11 seconds."

During the off-season, the Division I tracks, including 75-80 and Mason Dixon, changed their rules for Class I and Class II cars. In the past, electronic devices were allowed in both classes. This year, electronic equipment is not allowed in Class II cars.

Last year, Peddicord competed in Class II with a transbrake on the car. To stay in Class II, Peddicord would have had to remove the device. He had to decide what class he would race.

"I decided to start out in Class I and see how it works," said Peddicord. "I brought a delay box to go with the transbrake to give it a try."

So far, things have been going good for him. He won the first day out on Easter Sunday. He lost on the first round two weeks ago and last week he went three rounds.

"If things keep going the way I started out, I should be up in points pretty good at the end of the year," he said.

So far, Peddicord is the only 12-second car to make the move into Class I at 75-80. Because Peddicord had some electronic equipment, the move wasn't as expensive for him as it would be for cars without it.

Peddicord isn't the only one in his family that has become involved in racing. In July, his son, Cliff, will begin racing as soon as he turns 16 and gets his license.

"He thinks he can beat the old man already," said Peddicord. "I don't know what he is going to drive yet. He has a summer job lined up already to pay the bills. I'll help some with the parts.

"I want him to start off in the trophy class to gain more track time before moving to Class II. But you know how young kids are. If he jumps right into the higher class and loses in the first round, he isn't going to learn anything."

Weekend results

In racing action last weekend, the Short Track Auto Racing Stars invaded the Hagerstown and Williams Grove speedways.

Gary Stuhler of Westminster grabbed the lead on the fourth lap and led the rest of the way to win the Stanley Schetrompf Memorial 50-lap late-model feature at the Hagerstown Speedway. Stuhler finished fourth in the STARS late-model feature at Williams Grove.

Rick Jones of Westminster finished fifth in the late-model feature at Winchester Speedway. Jones has finished in the top five in five races and leads in the point standings.

Cris Eash of Woodbine finished third in the super-sprint feature at Williams Grove and placed second at the Selinsgrove Speedway.

At Lincoln Speedway, Howard Williams of Westminster was seventh in the semi-late feature. In the thundercar main event, Ron Spencer of Westminster was fifth and John McDonogh of Finksburg finished eighth.

At Trail-Way Speedway, Mike Stull of Westminster won the micro-sprint feature. David Parrish of Westminster was third, Steve Owings of Westminster placed seventh. Greg Messersmith of Hampstead was fourth in the thundercar. Brad Green of Westminster won the four-cylinder feature, Westminster's Matt Barnes was fourth and Jeff Young was ninth.

Owings' three-hour trip to Orangeville, Pa., was worth it as he won the micro-sprint feature at Greenwood Valley Speedway.

In drag racing at 75-80 Dragway, Joe Mayne of Mount Airy won the Class I competition. In other Class I action, Sev Tingle of Mount Airy and Peddicord of Westminster made it to the semifinals.

Mike Stambaugh of Union Bridge won Class II and Chris Hruska of Mount Airy was a semifinalist. Steve Hoff of Sykesville returned to racing after taking off a year and made it to the quarterfinals.

Marion Ford of Hampstead won the motorcycle class and Josh Wagner placed third in the Junior Dragster division.

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